Cycles of the season, life and death, learning from mistakes or not. It's all part of life. Some folks may be more in tune than others, and some HAVE to be more in tune than others. Being a homesteader to small time farmer has taught me so much respect for all the cycles our world has to offer. Weather, growing older, harvesting, dying.
As a young person I was raised just a few miles from where set my bones these days. I grew up in a rural, 246 population town in western Wisconsin. I grew up with farms and family all around me. My uncle kept his heifers and calves in barns that where right next to my parents property. He farmed the fields behind my home, I played in the woods and cricks all around me. My neighbors had a farm with beef cows and HUGE draft horses, plus a mule or two as well as a pond with ducks and the occasional goose. I spent my summers fishing, catching frogs, making forts and going on adventures all day. I dreaded going back to school every fall. I was never much of a school gal, I learned a bit differently and have a hard time applying myself to just words or things I didn't care about, I need to have hands on experiences to learn or an actual need and want to learn. I'm sure it's not that much different from many folks out there.
I'm sharing this because, even s a youngster I was aware of season changes, how they made me feel. Even today my memories trigger a wide gambit of emotions in me. Nostalgia, sadness, happiness, longing, wanting to go back to the "old days". Yet I know it's important to embrace change, to ride with it, to keep learning and creating new experiences along the way. To strive for what I want, to take action. I'm fortunate and privileged enough to be able to try and grasp at my dreams. I also work hard and have good community support. All of these things put me where I am today and help me to keep moving forward and reach goals.
Yesterday was a chicken butchering and processing day, the second one of the year on EB Ranch. My friend and constant chicken share member, Arthur, showed up to help Bob and I process our 30 chickens. It took less than three hours, we have done this many time before and have created a good system. Some years we have many other friends come and help, this year many friends where busy with other commitments. I miss seeing them, as we always have food and a cocktail or two after butchering. But things change, and I'll see my friends again elsewhere. The three of us still induldged in food, a cocktail, and a warm wood stove. As well as engaging in good conversation.
A major cycle is in the works, these beautiful free ranging chickens are no longer alive. But they will sustain Arthur and Melissa, as well as myself and Bob. These chickens will be gifts for other people. On top of that, these chickens where used to help clean up our dead garden, to spread their manure around. To scratch up the earth and eat grubs and other bugs. Their manure and all the other critters' manure on EB Ranch help fertilize our gardens so we can grow amazing veggies. Not to mentions some hellaciously delicious garlic!
Now, this morning we have snow on the ground. I think it's stuff that might actually stick for the winter season? Maybe not? Bob and I still have some outside tasks to get done before hard winter closes in. Mainly getting a shelter finished up for the ducks and geese. There are also a large group of San Clemente Island goats coming this way in a week! I need to put up some last minute fence and structures for them for their 30 day quarantine. Thankfully I got all of our water hoses put away, plus random extension cords and weird bits and pieces laying around. I now get to use my new watering system. Which is a bungie hose I can use outside in the winter. I can keep the hose inside to keep from freezing when not in use. Bob got our garage filled long ago with wood for our wood stove. We heat exclusively with wood, so that is VERY important to have. I feel pretty set up and ready for this new season change, this new winter cycle.
The freezers are full and could be more full in the near future with the promise of venison. I have a lot of potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, parsnips, and cabbage in storage. There are a multitude of projects I'm going to tackle this winter. Including taking on a more active role in writing for the local Hay River Review newspaper, being part of growing the local chapter of Farmers Union, taking on organizing roles in upcoming events and perhaps being part of a local food hub co-operative? Not to mention GROWING MY OWN BUSINESS!! Getting ready for the holidays and making sure I have enough goat milk soap back stock. Getting ready to assess these new goats coming in, selling of some breeding stock and goat meat shares. All of this takes time to market both online and through word of mouth, and having a presence in public.
I'm wrapping up the season with my off farm job at another veggie CSA farm called Spring Hill Community Farm. I have off this week, and will come back to work a few more days the following week for their last winter share of the season. This seasonal work has worked out well for me, I can take the winter to keep making soap, take care of the animals, and keep chipping away and building my business. I have three books I need to tackle, one sooner rather than later. That first one is "When the Hills are Gone" by Thomas W. Pearson. It's about frac sand mining in small communities. The next two are all about wrapping my head around the EB Ranch business. The first one is "Fearless Farm Finances", I have been doing my own bookkeeping by the seat of my pants, this book will help me find out how to ACTUALLY do bookkeeping, but also tackle other aspects of a farming business. Last but not least, I'm excited to read more of "Managing Breeds for a secure Future" :Strategies for Breeders and Breed Associations. This is all about how best to work with rare and heritage breeds, specifically livestock. This will help me formulate a better breeding plan for the rare San Clemente Island Goats that I raise.
Thrown in the mix of course is some down time. I decided to start playing video games again. I have a Wii system with some RPG games and plan on getting a few more multiplayer games to invite folks over and be silly with. Not to mention working on art, and just having extra time with my partner Bob and all the critters on the farm. That's 5 cats, 2 dogs, and a multitude of goats, geese, ducks and chickens. Little side note, my little sister and her family just adopted a new puppy in addition to their older bully breed dogs. I think it pulled at Bob's heart strings as well as mine. So we might be looking to get a future farm dog this time next year? We have been seriously talking about blue heeler pups as more of a farm dog. We LOVE our two dogs, but they need to be kept in an electric net fence so they don't run off after deer. They are more companions than working animals.
Bring on my Hello Kitty onsie footie pajamas, bring on the winter layers and snow adventures. I'm ready, are you?
Thank you for the support!
Born and raised in a small town, then moved back to the same small town. Jill of many trades and happy to be so.